Ligustrum sinense is a semi-evergreen shrub or small tree that grows to 20 ft. (6.1 m) in height. Trunks usually occur as multiple stems with many long, leafy branches.
Leaves are opposite, oblong, 1-2.4 in. (2.5-6 cm) long, and 0.2-0.6 in. (0.5-1.5 cm) wide. Foliage can be pubescent along the underside of the midvein.
Flowering occurs from April to June, when panicles of white to cream flowers develop in terminal and upper axillary clusters. Pollen can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
The abundant fruits are spherical and 0.3-0.5 in. (1-1.3 cm) long. Fruit begins green, ripens to dark purple to black, and persists into winter. Birds and other wildlife eat the fruit and disperse the seeds. Seed soil viability is about one year. The plant also colonizes by root sprouts.
Several privet species occur, and distinguishing among them can be difficult. Ligustrum sinense can tolerate a wide range of conditions. Plants form dense thickets, invading fields, fencerows, roadsides, forest understories, and riparian sites. They can shade out and exclude native understory species, perhaps even reducing tree recruitment. Native to Europe and Asia, Ligustrum sinense was introduced in the United States in 1852 as an ornamental plant. It is commonly used as an ornamental shrub and for hedgerows.